Daily Office:


Matins: The only thing that’s missing from this Observer story about a houseguest from hell is the atmosphere that Quatorze would exhale if he were reading it.

Lauds: Here’s a story that ought to be curdling my innards, but the innards in question were curdled so long ago that there’s nothing left. The Times may sell WQXR, according to the kind of rumors that have been panning out lately.

Prime: Even though I have NO ROOM, I must confess to being beguiled by Mike Johnston’s Online Photographer entry about starting a camera collection.

Tierce: Olympia Snowe’s envoi to Arlen Specter manages to make Ronald Reagan, of all people, sound like a moderate Republican. The Pennsylvania senator’s defection to the Democrats may also lubricate his former party’s easing-up on opposition to same-sex marriage.

Sext: And, speaking of marriage, The Morning News assembles a Panel of Experts, comprising a handful of youngsters who are engaged to be married, “The Rules of Engagement.”

Nones: First, the good news: things are looking up (a little) in Myanmar, a nation so devastated by Cyclone Nargis, last year, that its repressive junta loosened up a bit.

Vespers: Finally: a book by Colson Whitehead that I’d like to read. None of that postmodern bricolage, just a straightforward summer novel: Sag Harbor. Marie Mockett inverviews the author at Maud Newton.

Compline: One of the most egotistical, testosterone-driven, and commercially senseless mergers in corporate history is about to be undone, as TimeWarner and America Online approach the dissolution of their relationship.


§ Matins. Not that Q would ever turn over his fantastic flat to the care of anyone who could not indemnify him for accidental damages by making him a pair of France.

“I had known him for 14 years,” said Mr. Tratner, who teaches graphic design and studio art at a nearby high school and promotes events at gay bars and clubs at night. He is 33, handsome and deeply tanned, with a shiny white smile, and drives a silver Chevy SUV, and he has lived in this neighborhood in Queens his entire life; his parents recently retired to Boca. “I had been to his home. He owned his own apartment in Chelsea. He used to have a line of yoga wear that was sold at Barneys and Bergdorf’s. He moved to California and we touched base now and then.”

Then John’s company went under and he moved to Florida with his parents, who are facing down foreclosure and bankruptcy, said Mr. Tratner. “He always kept an immaculate home and took wonderful care of his dog. He was big into Buddhism and yoga.” And there was a glimmer of hope: He had job interviews lined up in New York. “This past year has been very hard for him.”

On John’s Facebook page, there’s no sign of the turbulence. His photos show a tall, handsome man with a cute dog. He has over 500 friends. He was excited, it seemed, about returning to New York; he had even gotten a new phone number with a New York area code.

§ Lauds. And why not? The company needs to raise every dime that it can just to stay in business for the rest of the year.

It has been a very long time since I listened to the radio at all, and when I do, the station is always WNYC, New York public radio. Which I’ve supported pretty regularly over the years. The prospect of listening to commercials between the Brahms and the Beethoven long ago became absolutely indigestible, and I gave up on Metropolitan Opera broadcasts for good at some point in the Nineties. I never really recovered from the loss of WNCN.

I listened to WQXR as a child, though — which explains my ability to rattle off “Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith,” as it then was, without thinking twice. I listened to WQXR because I was born preferring classical music — I just came out that way. It’s true that most of my favorite “compositions” would be be found on those terrific Hyperion recordings of “light classics.”  But, hey, I was only ten.

Is broadcast radio still a desirable delivery system for serious music? I don’t think so. If I were more entrepreneurial, I’d be licensing my own playlists, complete with upbeat lecturettes. At some point, I hope to be doing it for free right here.

§ Prime.Don’t worry; I’m not really tempted — which only means that I haven’t had enough time to stoke up the lustbox. For now, it’s like going over somebody else’s totally cool Christmas wish-list.

You have to admit that the “late 19th – early 20th century folding or box wooden view” and the Graflex Speed Graphic (shown with currently unavailable Weegee attachment) are gorgeous objects. And, what do you know: I’ve already got one of the cameras on the list — as does everyone my age who ever entertained photographic pretensions.

The Canon AE-1. Another camera that’s still very inexpensive and all over Ebay. The AE-1 was significant because, as promoted by Aussie tennis star John Newcombe, it was the best-selling SLR of its day, and really raised Canon above its Japanese competitors and put it on the map as an eventual rival to Nikon. It was also the first camera to use plastic extensively to replace metal; the top plate—previously the most expensive single part of SLRs—was ABS plastic, cleverly chrome-plated to look like metal. The innovation allowed Canon to undercut competitors’ pricing while still making more profit. Wikipedia has a good article on the AE-1.

§ Tierce. In the afterburn of the Bush years, Reagan’s remarks really do seem unimpeachable (although it’s hard not to imagine his accompanying with coded winks and nods):

It is for this reason that we should heed the words of President Ronald Reagan, who urged, “We should emphasize the things that unite us and make these the only ‘litmus test’ of what constitutes a Republican: our belief in restraining government spending, pro-growth policies, tax reduction, sound national defense, and maximum individual liberty.” He continued, “As to the other issues that draw on the deep springs of morality and emotion, let us decide that we can disagree among ourselves as Republicans and tolerate the disagreement.”

Scott Schmidt, a former McCain strategist, says much the same thing:

“Republicans should re-examine the extent to which we are being defined by positions on issues that I don’t believe are among our core values, and that put us at odds with what I expect will become, over time, if not a consensus view, then the view of a substantial majority of voters,” he said in a speech.

This does not mean, Republicans said, that most Americans are suddenly embracing the idea of same-sex couples going to the chapel. It is more that, for a lot of these Americans, gay marriage is not something they spend a lot of time worrying about, or even thinking about.

§ Sext. Amidst all the fun & geniality, TMN‘s copy chief, Liz Entman, lobs a ball that we all ought to keep our eyes on.

I believe gay couples should have the same rights and responsibilities of civil marriage that straight people have. At the same time, I’m not going to postpone my own marriage in protest, mostly because I don’t think boycotting marriage is an effective form of activism. The people who really, deeply oppose gay marriage don’t really hate the idea of gay marriage—they hate the idea of gays. And they hate the idea of gays a lot more than they hate the idea of straight people living in sin—otherwise they’d be petitioning to make that illegal, too. You can’t just mildly annoy the opposition into submission.

It seems to me that Ms Entman’s point is too often overlooked: opponents of same-sex marriage loathe homosexuality. It’s a point that must never be overlooked out of mistaken politeness. Prop 8 = Hate, and don’t let anybody kid you otherwise.

§ Nones. The bad news is that exiled Burmese are up to the usual tricks of exiles.

“Shockingly, some exiled Burmese political and lobby organizations are actively campaigning against further donor funding for the delta, based on very poor knowledge of the situation on the ground,” said Richard Horsey, former senior adviser on Burma to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “Aid money is drying up.”

Reports by exile groups about the military forcibly conscripting children orphaned by the storm are politically loaded and wrong, said the U.N. program director, whose portfolio includes child-labor issues. “There’s been absolutely no evidence of that whatsoever,” the official said. “If it had happened, I would know.”

Having lived with this sort of nonsense on our own flanks (Cuba) and just across the Atlantic (Ireland) — I will not even breathe the name of a certain smaller country — surely we have enough evidence that exiles, especially when they’re sympathetic and “right-minded,” can do their homelands no end of harm, forestalling reconciliations for generations while tidily eschewing the bloody fray that they foment. What we need is an unofficial convention on exiles that would debar them from mounting significant attacks on the countries to which they dream of returning.

§ Vespers. Summer novel, I said, not beach novel. A summer novel is a novel about a young person’s summer, usually spent in a strange place (or surrounded by visiting strangers, in the case of some of Alice Munro’s stories).

I have a hard time figuring out how much empathy Benji has for his father and mother, as I see him as in so much denial about the larger family forces around him. I didn’t want to him to process; it takes years and years to understand what’s going on around us in our houses, and I wanted to depict that. (Hence no tidy resolution on Labor Day; life is not that neat.) Did I feel sympathy for the father? At the end of the day, they’re constructs. When I read back over stuff I’ve written, I have a more sentimental response, based on the day to day progress: “I remember when I figured out the sister’s cameo, I went out and had a good steak”; “God it was hot when I wrote the Afro scene, I was listening to Jay Reatard and sweating like a pig.”

§ Compline. In the understatement of the week (at least), TimeWarner chief Jeffrey Bewkes acknowledged that “most M&A in the media sector has not created value.” Show me the sectors where it did create value (except for the transactional handmaidens — the bankers, the lawyers, the financial printers, &c).

It would be super to have a monument to Failed Mergers erected on the place in front of AOL TimeWarner Center.

One Response to “Daily Office:

  1. Quatorze says:

    Re: Matins
    A sharp and deep exhalation of breath as a myriad of Chinese tortures zips across my frontal lobe. The fact that “John” hadn’t destroyed his OWN clothes and shoes would have clinched it for me had I been Matt; decapitation, with a butter knife, would be the only acceptable punishment.

    Of course, the extremes of weird behaviour and destruction noted in the article, and the fact that Matt was a oft-times promotor of gay clubs, leads one to think that there is more to this story than anyone has let on. Drug abuse in the gay club/sex sub-culture is, sadly, well known and this could well explain the unraveling of “John’s” life in the first place… as well as Matt’s not choosing to bring charges.

    My “petite maison” , with the restricted size of its sleeping quarters and lack of a closing door, cocktail preparing-sized kitchen and the presence of a superfluity of delicate objects throughout the space, is really not suitable for the relaxation and comfort of overnight guests, though I have offered it on occasion, and on those occasions when the offer was accepted, never regretted it. I would and will continue to offer its use, it being so central in Manhattan and thus, so perfect for visitors, but given this article, only to vetted friends.

    Damages of this sort would require as indemnification my being made a duc et pair AND receiving at least an 18th pavillion or “lanterne” (a building that one can see through from front to back, such as the Pavillion de la Lanterne near the site of the old Menagerie at Versailles, currently used by the French Prime Minister as a weekend retreat – I am being specifically detailed here in case the need to recompense me for damages should ever actually arise), if not a full chateau…